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Monday, December 24, 2012

MAKE CHRISTMAS MERRY & SAFE FOR YOUR PETS

Christmas is a wonderful time worth looking forward to. With winter in full swing and a new year fast approaching, it truly is a time for celebration.  It is also a time to make sure our home is decorated with the safety of our pets in mind.

Christmas decorations can prove tempting to our furry family members. Noses, paws and tails can knock glass and ceramic ornaments off Christmas Trees and displays.  It is a good idea to put unbreakable ornaments or no ornaments at all on the lower branches of your tree. Make sure displays containing breakables are on mantles, walls or places higher than your canine's eye level. In the case of felines, breakables should be in a place where kitty can't jump to. Breakables not only cause cuts but fragments can be ingested causing internal perforations and requiring surgical removal. String, thin ribbon, tinsel, metal hooks and wire can cause emergency intestinal issues for both dogs and cats. Do not use them on the lower part of the tree. I would suggest wide ribbon instead. If you like tinsel, a great trick is to get white or colored paper, run it through a paper cutter (the non-cross cut type) and use it as 'tinsel'. I use green and red paper and I put very little of it around the bottom branches of the tree.

And while we're on the subject of Christmas Trees, make sure your tree, whether it's artificial or real is anchored to the walls to keep anyone, especially your pet, from knocking it over. Many a story I've heard of a cat who loved to climb, nestle in the branches or fling himself at the family tree. Live trees need water and nutrients - keep the water source covered. It is another potential avenue of poisoning for your dog or cat. If you use a tree skirt, you might want to spray it with a citrus-scented perfume to deter your cat or use Grannick's Bitter Apple but test an inconspicuous portion of cloth to make sure what you're using doesn't stain. Recycle your dog's old Elizabethan collar as a tree-stand cover. It's sure to keep all the four-legged traffic from drinking from the 'new' water bowl. 

Puppies and kittens love to chew and gnaw on just about everything. How many pairs of slippers have succumbed to little mouths? I've lost books, clothes, shoes even a bag of potting soil to inquisitive puppies. The extra electric cords for lights and automated decorations will be too tempting to resist. Besides electric shock to your pet there is the potential of fire. To keep your pet and possessions safe, purchase Grannick's Bitter Apple to spray on the cords. Make sure you spray the cords thoroughly; the smell will keep them from tasting the sprayed item. I've used Grannick's Bitter Apple with the majority of my puppies and I find it works very well. With its sour-apple smell and bitter taste, to me it's the animal equivalent of that stuff you paint on your kids' nails to keep them from biting them.

Of course, everyone looks forward to all the food, desserts and treats associated with the holidays. Frequently we try different cuisines, new recipes or special holiday favorites and that's fine for us but not for our pets. Family and guests should be reminded not to feed the four-legged family members human food. Have some special pet treats available for guests to give to your pet but make sure their intake is monitored. Don't overfeed or feed foods not usually included in their regular diet to your pets. Don't let anyone give them alcohol of any kind, soda, coffee or tea and no chocolate! Grapes, raisins, advocados and onions are poisonous to pets. A quick review of the following list compiled by the Humane Society will help you protect your pet from accidental poisoning:
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/foods_poisonous_to_pets.html

If you will have a large gathering and your pet is not used to such activity or even a small gathering with people not familiar to your pet it might be best to confine your furry family member to a quiet part of the house. This will reduce the possibility of your pet inadvertently getting out of the house as well. It will also prevent unpredictable behavior such as growling, snapping, biting or scratching.

Costumes such as reindeer antlers, angel outfits or ribbons on pets make adorable Christmas cards but if your pet doesn't like dress up, please don't force them.

Finally, plants and flowers are commonly given as gifts at Christmastime. Make sure you read up on any plants you intend to purchase or plants you have received to prevent accidental poisoning of your dog or cat.

A little bit of planning goes a long way. Whatever you do Christmas Eve, be it last minute preparations or celebrating, enjoy the Eve and Christmas Day and make sure your furry family members enjoy it to! Following these simple suggestions will go a long way to making the holiday season a happy one for everyone.

German Shepherd Rescue of New England, Inc. website lists various poison control numbers to call in the event of an emergency:

http://www.gsrne.org/Health/poison_control.htm

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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